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An Ounce Of Prevention

Quick tips for cutting maintenance costs

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This story appears in the November 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If keeping your car's maintenance costs down feels like a losing battle, try employing a few less-obvious strategies. The most important: Read your owner's manual cover to cover. Today's vehicles come equipped with long-life belts, coolant, batteries and hoses, while carburetors and distributors are things of the past. Electronics take charge of many adjustments in today's engines: More than 80 percent of vehicles' systems are controlled by computers, which practically tune them and monitor the parts, says Michael Vaughn of Ford's service program. But that doesn't get you off the hook. Following the recommended maintenance schedule in your owner's manual not only keeps repairs at bay, but extends the life of your car.

Check tire pressure often, especially if you carry heavy loads, recommends Chuck Halper, Hyundai's vice president of service. Underinflated tires increase rolling resistance, affecting handling and braking as well as fuel economy, and can prematurely erode treads.

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